• In popular usage, the space offstage on either side of theacting area. In a more technical sense, wings are flats ateach side of the stage, used both as scenery and to screen off thebackstage area from the audience.

    Pairs of flats were first used in this way in late 16th-centuryItaly, whence they were introduced to England by Inigo Jones.Wings were eventually replaced by the box set (first seenin London in 1832) but remain in use as scenery pieces for pantomime,opera, and ballet.

    The expression waiting in the wings is used metaphoricallyto mean being ready to step in when needed. To wing it is toimprovise or partly improvise a performance at short notice - the implication being that the actor has only had time to look athis or her part whilst standing in the wings. see also whistling.